Partners In Health Rwandan Share Houses
This building is actually housing for the workers of the hospital in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda. It was designed by Sharon Davis, whose company was approached by NGO Partners in Health to design low-cost housing for their medical staff and the staff of the Rwandan Ministry of Health. Aimed at creating a sensible, sustainable, affordable building attuned to its hot, dry hillside site, the accommodation for 16 professionals provides bedrooms and shared bathrooms plus common spaces and a walkway linking them all.
The design elevates the dormitory experience for individual residents through additional means. Bedrooms open to private exterior spaces that boast western views to the Vallée Kibaya. Balconies and other exterior circulation spaces are shaded for comfort in the hot, dry climate. And woven eucalyptus screens provide privacy, while also referencing thatching materials of traditional Rwandan construction.
Share Houses’ reliance on regional building materials, such as eucalyptus collected from the area, represents a parallel design response to the clients’ tight budget. Key sources include bricks handmade by a nearby women’s cooperative, locally quarried stone, and the clay tiles that form the project’s ventilated roof cavity. Rwinkwavu residents performed approximately 90 percent of labor, and women represented at least one-third of hires throughout construction. Sharon Davis Design conceived and executed the project in partnership with Rwanda Village Enterprise.
“All the materials for this health center were sourced from within Rwanda, and 90 percent of the labor came from the village of Rwinkwavu — women represented a minimum third of the staff. “This housing represents a major step forward for the local healthcare system in this remote area of Rwanda,” Sharon Davis explained.
All the bedrooms and common spaces orient themselves towards beautiful views overlooking a cultivated valley and afternoon sunsets,’ says Davis. ‘The land belongs to the Ministry of Health and was being leased to farmers for rotating crops up until construction began. In 2012, our firm teamed with RVE to design an affordable housing complex. The process began with a Community Design Workshop in which we heard from and worked with more than 200 community members, who helped us to understand the community’s needs. It was during this workshop that PIH approached us for 16 to 20 rooms to be built for about half the cost they were typically building for. The project was designed and built in partnership with RVE on budget and within a one-year time frame.
The two single-storey dormitories are situated on a sloping hill, directly adjacent to the hospital. Each house consists of eight bedrooms, one kitchen, one dining room, one living room, two shared bathrooms, one staff service area and an exterior shared veranda space. The medical staff’s major critique of existing dorms was the lack of communal space; they had no place to socialise and interact with other co-workers. We therefore approached the design to feel more like a home. Along with the communal spaces such as the living, dining and kitchen, individual rooms provide private social space in the form of covered outdoor balconies to accommodate more intimate gatherings while at the same time providing deep overhangs to protect the westfacing rooms from unwanted solar gain.
All the construction materials were sourced from Rwanda, with most coming from the neighbouring areas. Local stone was quarried for all the foundations and walkways. A neighbourhood women’s cooperative was employed to make all the handmade bricks for wall construction. The well-proportioned and truer brick-shaped they made allowed us to build seismic-performing, English bond, load-bearing walls reinforced with rebar instead of the typical concrete frame and infill method. This reduced cost and lowered our carbon footprint by removing all concrete columns and beams from the project, as well as the need to plaster all the walls. A ventilated roof cavity draws cool air in from the eaves, is clad with clay tiles for thermal and acoustic performance, and is topped off with a vented ridge cap to allow hot air to escape. To help support the local economy, approximately 90 percent of the labour was local to Rwinkwavu and women represented one third of the staff during construction.
Sharon Davis Design:
Located on a hillside in rural Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, Share Houses provides 6,900 square feet of temporary housing for medical professionals from Partners In Health and Ministry of Health. Employees of the nonprofit organization and government agency live in Share Houses for as long as one year, as they perform contract work at Rwinkwavu Hospital or attend the hospital’s adjacent training facility. The facility is divided into a pair of single-story bar volumes. In each, eight bedrooms are arranged around a multi-tiered common space to promote community among various healthcare staff.
Two new “Share Houses” designed by New York City-based designer Sharon Davis Design in partnership with Rwanda Village Enterprise for Partners in Health and the Rwandan Ministry of Health have opened in rural Rwinkwayu, Rwanda. The two structures, each of which houses eight doctors and nurses and is located immediately adjacent to the 110-bed Rwinkwayu Hospital, allows medical staff to live closer to the population they serve, thus improving the delivery of healthcare services in the remote village. The design of the buildings are informed by their hillside location and the hot, dry climate of the region.
The design responds both to its site on a hot, dry hillside and to the tight budget required by the client. Each bedroom has its own private exterior space facing the views of the valley to the west with large overhangs for rain and heat protection. The bedrooms are connected to the shared bathrooms and common spaces with a covered and screened exterior walkway. The eucalyptus screen wraps around the uphill side of the house providing a sense of enclosure and privacy for it residents and also a connection to more traditional ways of building.
Each bedroom has its own private exterior space oriented to views of the valley to the west with large overhangs for rain and heat protection. The bedrooms are connected to shared bathrooms and common spaces by a covered and screened walkway made of eucalyptus that provides a sense of enclosure and privacy for the residents. The buildings were built on a tight budget and with the goal of boosting the local economy. Most of the materials were sourced from the neighbouring area and the structures were built with local labour, approximately 90% of which is from the poor and rural village of Rwinkwayu.
All the construction materials were sourced from within Rwanda, with most coming from the neighboring areas. Local stone was quarried for all foundations and walkways. A neighborhood women’s cooperative was employed to make all the handmade bricks for wall construction. A ventilated roof cavity is clad with clay tiles for thermal and acoustic performance. In order to help support the local economy, approximately 90% of the labor was local to the poor and rural village of Rwinkwavu, and women represented a minimum of one third of the staff throughout construction.
Project name: Rwandan Share Houses
Type: Housing, Health Care
Project Area: 6,900 sq.ft / 621 sqm
Completion Year: 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Partners In Health
Architects: Sharon Davis Design – 31 Perry St, New York, New York 10014, United States
Design & Builder: Sharon Davis Design + Rwanda Village Enterprise
Sharon Davis Design Team: Samuel Keller, Yves Twizeyimana, Emmanuel Havugimana, Kenneth Nkusi, Aziz Farid
Managing Director: Brian Halusan
Country Director: Justin Twizere
Project Engineer: Japheth Makale
Procurement: Munyarugamba Eric
Plumber: Muhindo Sibalingana
Electrician: Alex Uwiringiymana
Furniture Makers: Hakizimana Isaie, Ntirushwamaboko Laurent
Women’s Brick Coop: KatwicoStructural
Engineering: Kayihura Nyundo
Text Description: © Courtesy of Sharon Davis Design,
Images: © Sharon Davis Design, Bruce Engel